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20-Week Ban, ‘Personhood’ Measure Introduced in Virginia

Nina Liss-Schultz

Lawmakers in Virginia this week introduced two anti-choice measures, adding to a long list of abortion-related bills to be considered this legislative session.

Lawmakers in Virginia this week introduced two anti-choice measures, adding to a long list of abortion-related bills to be considered this legislative session.

The state house on Friday introduced a “personhood” resolution, stating that “the life of the human person commences at conception, also known as fertilization.” While the resolution in Virginia doesn’t ban abortion outright, the intent of such measures—as seen in other states—is to make abortion illegal at any stage of pregnancy by giving fertilized eggs legal recognition.

Personhood measures, which have been roundly rejected by voters nationwide, could also effectively ban emergency contraception, in vitro fertilization, and stem-cell research.

Both Colorado and North Dakota shot down personhood measures during the midterm elections in November—the third time voters in Colorado rejected the law.

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Legislators in the Virginia house on Thursday evening also introduced HB 2321, a “Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act,” that would outlaw abortion after 20 weeks post-fertilization, except for when the pregnant person’s life is at risk.

The bill, which would make performing an abortion after 20 weeks a felony offense in Virginia, is similar to the 20-week ban introduced—and then pulled—by Congress this month. Lawmakers in South Carolina and West Virginia have also introduced 20-week bans this year.

Gov. Terry McAuliffe, a pro-choice Democrat, won Virginia’s gubernatorial election in November, defeating radical anti-choice Republican candidate Ken Cuccinelli—a vocal personhood proponent.

Lawmakers last week introduced a handful of bills that would affect access to reproductive health care. Many of those bills were pro-choice or otherwise affirming access to care, including several bills that would repeal or rewrite anti-choice legislation already on the books in the state.

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